When Itamar Marcus, the head of Palestinian Media Watch, replays the official Palestinian television programs teaching Palestinian toddlers to "Stab! Stab! Stab!" Israelis to death, European officials cluck sympathetically, and allow as how it is, of course, a shame. Marcus, who 20 years ago founded the media watchdog that monitors Palestinian media, has many hours of this stuff, and his collection of it grows every day.
Palestinian television features children's programming instructing kids that Jews are "Satans," "enemies of God," "the most evil of creations," "barbaric apes" and "wretched pigs," among other things. One children's poem recited on Palestinian television goes this way: "As long as my heart is my Koran ... my [suicide] belt is around my waist and my rifle is on my shoulder."
Marcus shows the Europeans the endless Palestinian sports tournaments and schools named after those who have stabbed or shot Israelis to death. The Palestinian Ministry of Education has named 25 schools after Dalal Mughrabi alone, the woman who led the bloodiest attack on civilians in Israel's history. Twelve children and 25 adults were killed, and 70 more wounded. This is the proportional equivalent of about 1,600 Americans killed and 3,100 wounded, and the Palestinian government is naming schools after the person responsible.
"This, tragically, is not an aberration but reflects the messaging of the Palestinian leadership to its people," Marcus says. "We do not yet have a peace partner."
When they are done assuring him that they agree that incitement to murder is never a good thing, Marcus asks the European officials if in that case they wouldn't mind actually saying something about it. "Oh, we do," reply the Europeans. "When we meet with Palestinian leaders, we mention it to them."
The stray private reference to Palestinian incitement, even if actually made, is meaningless, and everyone knows it. European politicians lack the desire, let alone the guts, to publicly criticize the Palestinians lest they face retribution by the militantly anti-Israel European street. And if the issue of Palestinian incitement is occasionally mentioned privately, Palestinian leaders could not care less. They know that no one will ever pressure them to change, and that they will remain free to do as they have done for years: incite Palestinians to murder Israelis, praise those who do the killing, blame the Israelis and continue pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars annually from American and European taxpayers. "There is little international cost — either financial or political — for Palestinian hate and terror promotion," says Marcus. "They can bring their children up to hate and support terror and claim victimhood — and world leaders [will] attack Israel."
One senior Israeli official acidly notes the undeviating hypocrisy that has characterized Europe's treatment of Israel for decades. The French and the Belgians virtually declared martial law when Islamic terrorists struck Paris and Brussels, he observes drily. "When we so much as place a cement slab on an East Jerusalem street to try to thwart a terrorist attack, the Europeans condemn it."
Comedian Bill Maher is more direct. "I wonder now that Europe has been attacked four times in a little over a year [whether] Europe will have a little more sympathy for what Israel goes through," Maher said.
The embrace of killing is not merely a case of a fish rotting from the head down. True, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has denounced the "filthy feet" of Jews. "Every martyr will reach heaven and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah," he has said. But with polls consistently showing that Palestinians overwhelmingly support the stabbing of Israelis, it is difficult to tell whether the incitement to murder is "top-down" or just Palestinian leadership keeping pace with Palestinian society.
Petrodollar-dependent, intimidated by constituencies that are rabid and unembarrassed by double standards, Europe can be counted upon to say nothing and do nothing. And so, the Palestinian incitement continues.
Jeff Robbins, a former United States delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Council, is an attorney in Boston. Talk back at letterstoeditor@ bostonherald.com.